Click inside for the weekly religion news with items on the meaning of "blood libel," "Twelve Steps to a Compasionate Life," quote of the week and more. Or check out these links:
Sarah Palin first made headlines for her lexicon when she invented the word “refudiate,” which was subsequently added to the Oxford American Dictionary.
Recently, Palin released a video-tapped response to those accusing her “crosshairs” map of the U.S. that marked the districts of various congressmen and women, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, of inciting violence.
In the rebuttal, Palin used the phrase “blood libel,” and unintentionally created another situation in which her personal lexicon was under fire –– whether she knew it or not, she had touched on a phrase with deep religious implications.
"Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn," said Palin.
Why is this term stirring so many emotions within groups like the Anti-Defamation League? According to Dictionary.com, “blood libels” are “allegations that a person or group engages in human sacrifice, often accompanied by the claim that the blood of victims is used in various rituals and/or acts of cannibalism.”
During the Middle Ages, the Jewish people were falsely accused of taking part in such rituals while using the blood of Christian babies. As the consumption of blood and use of it in ritual is prohibited in Judaism, these accusations were purposely created to demonize Jews, which resulted in the persecution and lynching of whole Jewish communities, according to Dictionary.com.
The occurrence of these accusations was so prevalent that the term evolved over time to become directly associated with the strife of the Jewish people during centuries of religious discrimination.
Palin might have been unaware that she was comparing her defense of her “crosshairs” map with centuries of religious persecution, and that “blood libel” is, nowadays, usually only used to refer to that period of hardship.
Steve Murphy, a Democratic consultant who writes for Politico.com, said that perhaps Palin meant to use the term “blood guilt,” which means guilty of murder or bloodshed, according to Dictionary.com.
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that perhaps, at the very least, Palin’s public figure status will shed light on the historical events to which “blood libel” refers.
“(I hope) Palin, who regularly expresses love for Jews and Israel, takes the time to learn about the history of the blood libel and shares what she has learned with her many admirers,” Goldberg wrote.
Week in Religion
- Jan. 18, 1846, Taylor University was established in Fort Wayne, Ind., under Methodist sponsorship.
- Jan. 19, 1568, death of Miles Coverdale, 80, publisher of the first printed English Bible. He completed the translation of the Old Testament, which William Tyndale had left unfinished at his death in 1536.
- Jan. 20, 1918, in Russia, following the Bolshevik Revolution, all church property was confiscated and all religious instruction in the schools was abolished.
-- William D. Blake, An Almanac of the Christian Church
There are twice as many Presbyterians serving in the Senate (14 percent) than the House (7 percent). Baptists, however, are more numerous in the House (14 percent) than the Senate (8 percent).
-- Pew Forum on Religion & Public Health
“Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” by Karen Armstrong
One of the most original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world now gives us an impassioned and practical book that can help us make the world a more compassionate place.
Karen Armstrong believes that while compassion is intrinsic in all human beings, each of us needs to work diligently to cultivate and expand our capacity for it. Here, in this straightforward and thought-provoking book, she sets out a program that can lead us toward a more compassionate life.
-- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Quote of the week
“Belief is truth held in the mind; faith is a fire in the heart.” – Joseph Fort Newton
The Word: Ebionites
1.) From the Hebrew root "Ebion"which means poor, oppressed or humble. 2.) A group of Jewish Christians. Some theologians believe that before Paul came on the scene, the Ebionites (or their predecessors) formed the original Christian movement. This included the people who knew Jesus best: his disciples and family.
Religion Around the World
Religious makeup of Austria
Roman Catholic: 73.6 percent
Protestant: 4.7 percent
Muslim: 4.2 percent
Other: 3.5 percent
Unspecified: 2 percent
None: 12 percent
- CIA Factbook
GateHouse News Service